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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

At last, we turn iTunes up to 11

Software gets updated all the time, and we all get those notifications now and then that an update to Apple's iTunes for our computer is available.

If you're like me, you put those updates off. They can take awhile, and, after all, iTunes was working just fine, right?

Today, however, I jumped at an update  -- even before my computer could notify me one was available. This is the much-talked-about, slightly delayed iTunes 11.

With all the updating you've done, can you remember the last time iTunes actually looked different? It does now. That, in itself, is interesting.

But the update is more than superficial. For one thing -- and this is hardly surprising -- Apple is trying to shove the iTunes Store in your business a lot more. It's much more prevalent.

That may be a little annoying (it's getting harder and harder not to spend money while you're sitting at your computer isn't it?), but I LOVE another new feature. The update includes an improved queue that lets you see the next several songs iTunes is going to play. You can move them around, and, more importantly to me, you can go into your library and tell it to put any song into the slot following the song currently playing. I'm forever thinking of a tune I'd like to hear but needing to wait until the current song is done before playing it, assuming I'm enjoying the song playing. (It's a first-world problem, I realize.)

Those of you concerned about privacy and targeted advertising probably want to be aware of an option when you're installing the new iTunes. It will ask if Apple can have access to your library to provide photos or some such thing. It's probably a way to figure out things to suggest you buy, but I went along with it. I'm all in, baby.

Here's a screen grab from my computer. This is iTunes 11 in the album view. As you can see, it's opened the third album from the left in the top row to reveal the tracks, showing the cover art to the right. Above, slightly right of center, you can see the new queue, which you can rearrange and add any time.

I highly recommend watching the optional tutorial video after you've installed the program and before you use it. You'll be able to figure out basic operations without it, but, as with previous versions, some of the more detailed controls aren't all that obvious. It's nice to have the visual guide before you dig in.

-- Mark Meszoros | | @nhfeatures

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